24 hours in Seattle

As a Seattleite, let me tell you – it rains in Seattle nearly as much as they tell you. But who cares? You're in the most beautiful, caffeinated and culture-rich city of the USA. So grab your umbrella and follow us on a 24-hour tour of the Emerald City.

The Seattle skyline at sunset. Image by  Michael Riffle / Moment Select / Getty The Seattle skyline at sunset. Image by Michael Riffle / Moment Select / Getty

Start in Pioneer Square – the birthplace of Seattle. Take a stroll and enjoy the handsome facades, wide cobblestone squares and boutiques. Be sure to visit Occidental Square and Pioneer Square Park before seeking out some breakfast.

A visit to The Daily Dozen Donut Co. is a must: watch the gorgeous little creations go through the magical doughnut-making process and pop out all hot and full of deliciousness. Eat them there or – even better – in neighboring Victor Steinbrueck Park overlooking the Elliott Bay and the majestic Mt Rainier. Need a coffee to wash it down? Just around the corner is Cafe Ladro, one of Seattle's best coffee shops.

The Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. Image by Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty The Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. Image by Danita Delimont / Gallo Images / Getty

Spend the late morning exploring Seattle's most visited attraction – Pike Place Market. Sure, it's where all the tourists go – but it's also the fastest way to fall in love with the city. It's the oldest continuously operating market in the nation, and it's just fun. Browse stalls of flowers, local crafts, cheesy t-shirts, beautiful artwork and fresh fish (for a thrill, watch the fishmongers throwing fresh salmon).

Next, head down to the waterfront to take in the classic Seattle smells: a mix of saltwater, cotton candy and greasy fish and chips. Take a break from walking to ride the Seattle Great Wheel (LP tip: the VIP car has a glass bottom giving you an even more immersive view of the Seattle waterfront and skyline). Then walk along the boardwalk and take in sights: barnacle-covered piers, tacky souvenir shops, aggressive fry-stealing seagulls and ferries cruising the bay.

Built in 1990, the Fremont Troll is under the George Washington Memorial Bridge. Image by Doug Rowan / America 24-7 / Getty Built in 1990, the Fremont Troll is under the George Washington Memorial Bridge. Image by Doug Rowan / America 24-7 / Getty

It's lunchtime, so head to Pike Place Chowder, a Seattle institution serving the best, clam chowder in the city. Then continue on to explore Seattle's coolest neighborhood: the artsy Fremont – considered 'the center of the universe' by residents. Not-to-be-missed sights include the quirky Fremont TrollFremont Rocket and Statue of Lenin.

Just under a mile to the east lies Seattle's picturesque Gas Works Park, built on the remains of the former Seattle Gas Light Company. Climb to the top of the grassy hill to enjoy the lovely view of Lake Union and the Space Needle. As the sun sets and your tummy starts rumbling for dinner, head to Daniel’s Broiler on Lake Union for a steakhouse feast.

Ready for a night on the town? Seattle's famous for its music scene, so be sure to catch a show. Into jazz? Go to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Belltown. Crocodile Cafe, also in Belltown, is known as one of the country's best rock clubs. For those in the mood to dance, head to the Century Ballroom – the perfect ending to a perfect day in Seattle.

This article was originally published September 2009. It was updated March 2015 by Valerie Stimac.